SBC Digital Summit: Navigating the new gambling regulations of COVID-19


Regulations have become a hot topic during the COVID-19 topic, as lawmakers and action groups argue that operators may only take advantage of the situation, while the iGaming industry tries to show its best side. At the second day of the SBC Digital Summit, Moderator Andy Danson, a partner at Bird & Bird, lead a panel with Martin Lycka, Director of Regulatory Affairs at GVC Holdings, David Williams, Director of Regulatory Affairs of the Rank Group, Avigail Nir, COO of Mansion Casino, and from the regulatory side, Yanica Sant, Head of EU Affairs & Policy at the Malta Gaming Authority, looking at how the constantly evolving situation is shaping up.

sbc-digital-summit-navigating-the-new-gambling-regulations-of-covid-19.Williams noted right off the bat that, contrary to the popular public narrative, there hasn’t been an explosion of betting. Nir and Lycka concurred on this point, with even the regulator noting that things are much more manageable than expected. “What we’re expecting was a much more dramatic change in player behavior than what we’re seeing,” Sant said.

Unfortunately though, regulators in some countries have been pushed to act out of anxiety, and Lycka railed on the idea of implementing arbitrary affordability limits, like in the U.K. He argued that these limits don’t make much sense, and it’s hard for a government to assess what a customer can afford, especially right now when spending habits are changing.

But the topic that dominated the discussion was the recent announcement by the U.K’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) that several operators have voluntarily agreed to cease TV and radio advertising. One audience member asked if this was an admission that gambling may be a problem by the groups involved.

David Williams wasn’t having that. He pointed to how fierce anti-gambling groups have been lately, and that by working with sensible members of the UKGC, the industry was proving it could self-regulate and be responsible.

Pointing out though that many of the concessions that are being asked of the industry now are the same one hardliners were asking for before the pandemic, Danson asked if there’s any change these regulations will be relaxed once everything is back to normal. Lycka responded that some measures which seem temporary might become permanent, but the industry simply has to have an evidenced based discussion with the powers that be when this is all over.

Nearly every talk at the SBC Digital Summit has offered some great insights about regulations and responsible gaming. You can still register to see what you’ve missed, and check out the other great speakers who will fill the rest of the week.